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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Iowa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 26, 2019

Cedar Rapids Man Who Carjacked a Teenager and Robbed a Store While Carrying a Gun Sentenced to Over 18 Years in Prison

He is the Third Person Convicted and Sentenced in the Case

A Cedar Rapids man who carjacked an 18-year old woman at gunpoint and carried a loaded handgun during and in relation to the robbery of a Cedar Rapids cell phone store was sentenced in United States District Court in Cedar Rapids on September 25, 2019, to 222 months’ in federal prison.

Cedric Antonio Wright (a/k/a “Tony” or “Mitch”), age 22, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was convicted by a federal jury in November 2018 of four charges: carjacking; carrying and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to the carjacking; unlawful possession of a firearm as a felon and unlawful drug user; and carrying a firearm during and in relation to the October 23, 2017 robbery of a phone store in southwest Cedar Rapids.  Wright had earlier pleaded guilty in the same case, on October 29, 2018, to one count of robbery and conspiracy to rob the phone store.

The evidence at trial showed that on October 22, 2017, Wright carjacked an 18 year-old Kirkwood Community College student who was returning to her apartment near Kirkwood after spending an evening with her parents.  As the student parked her car outside her apartment, Wright approached and pointed a handgun at her head while demanding she give Wright her car keys and cell phone.  The student later identified a photo of Wright that appeared online and identified Wright from a group of photos at the Cedar Rapids Police Department.

Trial evidence showed that on October 23, 2017, Derrick Ford agreed to give Wright and Gage Rupp a ride in his minivan from southeast Cedar Rapids to an apartment complex on the west side of Cedar Rapids, where Wright claimed the group could transfer into the stolen car.  After transferring into the stolen vehicle, the group drove to a parking lot adjacent to the strip mall where the phone store is located.  Wright and Rupp then entered the store and demanded the clerk let them into the room where the store inventory was located.  The clerk complied and testified at trial he did so because the robbers entered the store aggressively and “I felt in fear of my life.”

Wright and Rupp returned to the waiting car with more than $1,000 in cash and about $40,000 in cell phones and other electronic devices they had stolen from the store.  One of the stolen devices was a tracker that alerted police of the robbery.  Police responded to the tracking device within a few minutes and were able to quickly apprehend Wright, Rupp, and Ford.

Information at the sentencing hearing showed that Wright had an extensive criminal history, even at his relatively young age, including a prior aggravated robbery conviction and numerous other offenses.  The government also presented evidence that in the months preceding the robbery, Wright had been engaged in a financial fraud scheme, whereby Wright agreed to pay bills for others, in exchange for them paying him half of the cost of the bill being paid.  Wright then apparently paid the bills using a fraudulently obtained credit card. 

Chief United States District Court Judge Leonard T. Strand noted that Wright’s crimes in this case were extremely violent and had been committed on back-to-back evenings, something that “stood out” from others.  Further, the nature and circumstance of the offenses were “frankly, disgusting” according to the judge. 

Wright was ordered to serve 222 months’ in prison, or 18 and a half years, to be followed by five years of supervision upon release from imprisonment.  Wright was also ordered to pay $600 in special assessments.  Wright remains in custody of the United States Marshal pending designation to a federal prison.

Rupp was sentenced on August 22, 2019, to serve twelve years’ imprisonment in connection with the same case.  Ford was sentenced on January 18, 2019, to serve 20 months’ imprisonment following his plea of guilty to one count of aiding and abetting the phone store robbery.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Richard Murphy and Emily Nydle and was investigated by the Cedar Rapids Safe Streets Task Force.  The task force is composed of representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Marshal Service, and the Cedar Rapids Police Department.

Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl

The case file number is 18-CR-0015.

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Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated September 26, 2019